Ten days of swell in and around Santa Cruz rounded up a memorable beginning to 2016, with El Niño generously bruising the entire Northern California coastline. A dry afternoon was all Anthony Ruffo needed to surprise this unsuspecting peak.
Through the rain, the blue skies, the rainbows, and more rain, Anthony Tashnick pins down one of the few spots that can hold up under moody weather.
Austin Smith-Ford has a knack for finding the ethereal sandbar in small windows and clean conditions.
A small out-of-season south swell snuck into The Slot, a west swell riled Middle Peak, and a panoramic view opened in all cardinal directions.
Most of the coastline between Santa Cruz and San Francisco is fickle beachbreak or craggy reef closeouts more suitable for mindsurfing than anything else. During El Niño, though, this zone is worth getting lost in.
A happier than expected Flea Virostko, who moments before had paddled for a set, tangoed with some offshore spray, and had free-fallen over a board-busting lip.
Just pull over. Ocean Beach can wait.
A lonely jewel shouts out for a coldwater hero to pack it.
"Is this heaven?" "No. It's [REDACTED]." A Pacific field of dreams, ready for offshore picking.
Santa Cruz lineups this year are full enough as is -- definitely no room to paddle-battle with 1000 airborne seagulls. Cody Shaver, jostling for priority.
Construction above and below the pier, as John Wilson starts the demolition at sea level.
Marco Foreman, going for broke between the pylons.
Nat Young, one of surfing's most committed athletes, boosts for a quick plyometric workout.
Long known for oversized courage on undersized boards at Mavericks, Ryan Augenstein took his quiver to the limit on this beast, filling the afternoon with dramatic wipeouts and impressive drops.
Nat Young has been hucking fins to the woodwork ever since he was the prized grom of S.C.
Augenstein, vacuum-packed in tight real estate.
The Lane's amphitheater isn't the only vantage from which to see a firing Santa Cruz in 4K. A visitor, staring high definition in the face.
An orange creamsicle board finds its way to the carnival that's been El Niño in January.
With a number of trips to The Emerald Isle under his belt, Wilhem Banks hones in on an Irish look-alike.
Banks, a human slab-magnet, latches onto a beauty.